Brand New Day

Brisbane, QLD, AU
Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Audience stung...

Sting - admired by some for his message-heavy pop and panned by others as a pompous experimenter - remains an infuriating study in contradictions.

A case in point: The 49-year-old former Police front man who lent his name to environmental causes and established the Rainforest Foundation recently filmed a television commercial for petrol-guzzling Jaguar cars.

The advertisement used a song from Sting's latest album, 'Brand New Day', and the publicity helped rescue the disc from sliding into oblivion. At last count, the slick but forgettable album had sold 7 million copies worldwide and earned two Grammy Awards. It has become Sting's most commercially successful album, coming at a point when he appeared to be long past his prime.

So you might think that the near-capacity crowd for his concert Sunday night at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre would have lapped up the new material.

They didn't. Indeed, the blandness of the songs from 'Brand New Day' stood in marked contrast to the old familiar hits from Sting's days with the Police and his six previous solo albums stretching back to the late 1970s.

The highlights of the evening all came when he churned out some of these well-worn tunes, although some of them were compromised by aimless jams from keyboardist Jason Rebello or guitarist Dominic Miller.

While Sting was backed up by a competent six-piece band, the most effective moment of the near two-hour show came near the end with his solo rendition of 'Message In A Bottle'.

The stripped-down reinterpretation of the song worked well, as Sting played guitar and repeatedly allowed the crowd to yell out the familiar chorus of ''I'll send an SOS to the world.''

Other Police hits such as 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' and 'Every Breath You Take' also got the crowd on their feet.

An extended piano jam during 'When The World Is Running Down You Make The Best Of What's Still Around' fleshed out the song nicely, although Miller's guitar solo at the end sounded clumsy.

Similarly with the classic 'Roxanne', which started out well enough but descended into a flaccid groove which undermined the song's urgency.

Trumpeter Chris Botti added some very tasteful flourishes to several numbers during the evening, particularly 'Seven Days' and 'Moon Over Bourbon Street'.

By contrast, several of the new songs failed to work. 'Perfect Love...Gone Wrong' came across as bland funk despite attempts to inject some life into the proceeding with a brief rap by drummer Manu Katche and a trumpet solo from Botti.

A no-frills stage and clean sound worked in the band's favour but the show never really caught fire.

That was disappointing, particularly as fans shelled out anywhere from to 7 for tickets.

(c) The Courier Mail by Anthony Marx

Sting having problems escaping Police...

However hard he tries to break free, the long arm of The Police still has a hold on Sting.

More than 15 years since the breakup of the band that made him famous and after eight solo albums, Sting's work with The Police is still what the fans most want to hear.

Sting and his band were 45 minutes into their Brisbane Entertainment Centre Show on Sunday night before they played the first Police song 'Everything She Does Is Magic'.

It attracted the most enthusiastic crowd response of the show to that point. Despite the success of and respect for his solo work, Sting is still best recognised and regarded for his time as the frontman of the late 1970s, early 80s super group.

Shame then, that Sting himself does not share the same respect for that part of his musical career as the fans.

Every Little Thing and the encore version of 'Every Breath You Take' were played at hurried pace, while Sting came up with an extended version of 'Roxanne' blighted by a ridiculous chant of ''Roxanno''.

Only the acoustic, solo version of 'Message In A Bottle' during the second encore matched the majesty of the original as Sting engaged in a singalong with the appreciative audience.

Sting has been touring Australia to promote his current top selling album 'Brand New Day'. Although he is almost 50, Sting looks exceptionally fit and youthful, still capable of bouncing around the stage as he had done in his days with The Police.

An audience clearly familiar with his work from The Police days also enjoyed the solo material. The title track of 'Brand New Day' and the new single 'Desert Rose' were well received, as were some of his older favourites such as 'Moon Over Bourbon Street' and 'An Englishman In New York'.

After two hours of polished musicianship, the Entertainment Centre crowd was stomping and cheering for more. Sting has two more shows in his Australian tour in Sydney this week.

(c) The Age by Steve Connolly